In Pink Camels and Floating Grannies I stayed away from having a villain type character. The story was based around Monkey’s grandparents coming to visit and spending the weekend with her, so I didn’t feel like it needed a direct conflict character. It was more a series of family events that everyone could relate to (well – at least a little). My grandmother was a main character and she created a lot of explosive interactions which I felt was enough. The feedback I have been getting from children who have/are reading my story confirmed that I was correct. They are all adequately embarrassed about my Grandmother.
In the second book, my feeling are a little different. In this book, my focus is around Monkey and her friends as they embark on a school camp. All my favourite teachers will be there, including Mrs Pelliot and maybe even Mr Trousers. I have also included a new teacher, Mr Mefer, who is the gym teacher (with a large moustache, of course). During the trip to their camp, Monkey, her friends and Mr Mefer stop for a lunch at a petrol station.
It was at this point that I felt like something needed to happen. I stopped writing.
I didn’t know what needed to happen. Did Mr Mefer relate an interesting story? Did something happen at the gas station? Did something happen to the Kombi they were driving in? I let these ideas float around in my head as I carried on my day.
At 5:30am on Sunday, my youngest cat – Gandalf – started scratching at the bedroom door wanting to get out, which my husband does. Of course then I am now awake. I could toss and turn till a decent hour, but that’s just going to irritate everybody. It then hits me.
I don’t remember her name, but she was always dressed so iconic-ally. She was also one of the most unpleasant adult figures I ever had to deal with as a child. What was really amazing was that she was supposed to be someone that I would forget – she wasn’t a main character at all, but she made herself one. Let me tell you.
I was about 10 to 13 I think. At Waldorf we have this class called Eurythmy. If you don’t know what it is, I am not going to try explain it here, as that is a whole blog post on it’s own. All you do need to know is that if generally involves music, choreography, and a bunch of kids wearing robes. At a later stage we would even get to the point where we would toss iron rods to each other. Like I said – it is one hell of a thing to try explain.
The class was run by a minor character in my life. I don’t remember her name. All I do remember is that she had salt and pepper frizzy hair and her clothes were shaped like sacks, with multiple layers. Having said that, that could describe pretty much most Waldorf-community characters/teachers/parent – at the school I went to anyway. The one thing I do remember about this teacher, though, was that she was a very soft spoken woman, who wasn’t particularly good at leading an entire group of plus, minus 25 children. Especially since at the core of the class was movement. At some point, we would also lose the plot and just do our own thing, start our own conversation and move at our own free will.
It was usually at this point that the piano player exploded. That’s right – a woman who had been brought into to just play the piano. I mean – who ever remembers the piano player? This woman ensured that we all remembered her.
She had a polka dot dress, a red belt, little doll shoes, straight black hair in a bob, loads of make-up on and a red band in her hair. Always. It was a look you never really forgot. I always assumed that she had worked as a Minny Mouse prior to being piano player.
When she exploded, she really exploded. Even the teacher, who was supposed to be running the class, would get alarmed. She exploded every class we had with her. She would rant and rage. I don’t remember anything she said, except that I recall she had an issue with bubblegum once. I remember her saying it was the most un-lady like thing to chew bubble gum. I didn’t have any bubblegum, but at that point I would have sold my soul for some. Just so that I could be un-lady-like and irritate this polka dot infested female.
Then one day she was just gone.
The thing about school is that there are always teachers you dislike for whatever reason. If you are a child, school is the place you are going to find your antagonist – whether it is in the form of some person in your class that irritates you or bullies you, or it’s a teacher wearing red lipstick and polka-dot dress. School is the place you are going to met them.
So what happens now?
As Monkey finishes her sandwich she sees a shuttle pull up a few parking spots down. The driver door opens and a long skinny leg slips out with a rounded doll shoe on. Then Monkey spots it – the bottom of a polka dot dress. She drops the remainder of her sandwich. With one hand she grabs Charlie next to her, with the other she grabs Thomas. They turn to look. They stop eating and they grab Steve and George.
They all watched as Mrs Caldwell stepped out the car.